It’s almost the New Year and many folks are considering New Year resolutions. Me too. But today I’m not thinking of just the future. Today I’m taking a stroll back . . . back to recapture moments . . . something like rummaging through an old cedar chest . . . to find snapshots from long ago . . . just waiting there to be held and remembered, still and quiet, in the vapers of time.
In my human journey, I am my past. And I am my future. As I sit and embrace both, I find the sacred beauty of the present moment, spacious enough to hold both, all of me. It’s where I see the many faces of love that have graced my life and where I can pause and hold each one a bit more tenderly. In those moments, I am full, whole and complete. And it touches a sweet longing in me, deep and true. I wrote a poem about it called “Before I Knew.”
Before I Knew
It’s right below the surface
that pool of tears . . .
Not tears of sorrow or joy
But of a sweet longing that runs deep
A longing to recapture you
in that moment long ago . . .
To hold you close again
before I knew
it would be gone
The poignancy of life, those moments that can fully disarm us leaving only the pulse of love for this amazing gift we’ve been given called life, is, in the end, all that really matters. It invites us to live fully into each moment before it is gone. Don’t blink! Touch it. Kiss it. Hold it close. But the good news is, if we’ve missed it, or just want to remember, we can always return to the cedar chest, quietly waiting in a distant chamber of our heart, where each tender moment yearns for our return.
Here are some of the pictures I found in my cedar chest. Maybe you’ll be inspired to revisit yours . . .
I already knew the place had been well loved. This wilderness camp we’d come to call 3 Feathers. I knew long before I’d heard of the Mormon family that had built the cabin from trees off the land some fifty years ago. How they’d arranged the logs across the ceiling in the living area in alphabetical order: Beech, Birch, Hickory, Maple, Red Oak and White Oak. Before I knew why there were big hooks on the ceiling and scattered on trees around the cabin, and why there’d once been a zipline chair down to the road—the husband loved swings.
Before we’d met the woman who’d owned the cabin and land the longest, twenty–three years. How she’d added the screen porch saying she wanted to feel just like she was in the woods, replaced the two huge boulders out front for steps, and added a flower bed. Though alone, she said she was never afraid and that just being there was a sweet respite from her busy city job.
Before she’d sold it to a family in Massachusetts who only owned it a few years before it’d found us. They hadn’t visited much so when we bought it there was a certain silence about the place. Clearly well loved, yes, but silent. Not even birds came to our new birdfeeders.
So, Doug, my husband, and I took cornmeal and my drum and we went around the cabin and surrounding land singing to the Spirit of the Place and offering it a blessing. Mostly, we gave it our love. Within just a few weeks our birdfeeders became home to a wide variety of birds. We saw our first bear on our crittercam who’d come to check out the place, and I got to know the tree that held up the foot of my hammock. It’s just what happens when you love a place. Not with the kind of emotional love full of need but, rather, with a more devotional love that seeks connection, not completion.
We all think of cleaning our living places, repairing what’s broken, maintaining. But do we think of blessing the space that surrounds, holds and supports us in so many ways day after day? Do we think of offering its Spirit our gratitude and love? Instead of decorating to the latest trends, what might happen if we just went about surrounding ourselves with all the things that most tenderly brought us to love? What might happen if we more clearly understood that just like our rock, plant, animal and human friends, where love only thrives from reciprocity, our surrounding places also have a Spirit seeking, not to merge with us, but rather to dance with us in mutual care and delight?
What if we suddenly knew the Spirit of a Place had as much to give, to teach us, as we to offer it? Perhaps then we’d find ourselves, more often, gently resting in its essence . . .
sheltered and at peace.
Below are some pictures of how we’ve loved our blessed 3 Feathers . . . and how it’s loved us in return . . . enjoy!
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt offers her work through the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living, LLC, and also serves as Founding Minister of the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple in Amherst, NH. She is the author of five books and additional interfaith curricula. To learn more about her books, as well as online and in-person classes and workshops, please visit her website at https://www.stephanierutt.com.